Banner Image. Oregon Chinese Disinterment Documents
Search Items
Back to Exhibits List


Map of Guangdong Province, China

Map of China with Guangdong Province shown in red.

The Gold Rush in the Western United States during the mid-1800s sparked a massive and rapid migration to the region and stories of ordinary men gaining their fortunes spread far and wide, including to China. When tales of riches reached the port of Canton (Guangzhou), the people within the southern province of Guangdong took notice.

During the 1840s-1860s, the populace of Guangdong province suffered from political and economic hardships including the Opium Wars, the 1851 T’ai’ P’ing Rebellion, and a food shortage caused by severe flooding in the Pearl River Valley. These dire circumstances in combination with news of an opportunity to prosper in order to aid their families, was the beginning of an influx of Chinese immigrants from Guangdong province, to the West coast, specifically California.

Unfortunately, within a few short years, Chinese workers had to endure anti-Chinese sentiments manifested politically and socially. The California legislature approved high taxes aimed at non-citizens, gold fields refused to allow Chinese miners, and some Chinese suffered physical violence. In the early 1850s gold was discovered in Southern Oregon and many Chinese moved North in hopes of better circumstances. Soon, discoveries of gold throughout Oregon and opportunities for employment beyond mining lead to an increase if the Chinese population throughout the state.